'WA apathetic about road deaths'

Children should be increasingly targeted with road safety messages as early as primary school to mould them into safe drivers by the time they get behind the wheel, WA’s new Road Safety Council chairman says.

Former WA Police deputy commissioner Murray Lampard was today announced by the Government as its incoming top road safety adviser replacing D’Arcy Holman, whose three year term expires this month.

Professor Lampard retired from the police in 2008 and has been a professor of law, justice and security science at Edith Cowan University since then.

He told The West Australian he believed the community had grown “apathetic” about the number of road deaths each year and hoped his “fresh eye” would improve WA’s fatality record, currently the worst in the nation.

He said the Government’s decision this year to funnel 100 per cent of speed and red light camera fines revenue into the road trauma trust account meant there was now money “to embark on some really big ticket items”.

“I’m suggesting we look at starting early with primary school kids in regards to pedestrian safety and bicycle safety and of course as they go into the more senior years we can really put a big effort into modifying their potential driver behaviour,” Professor Lampard said.

“The disturbing statistic is that young people aged between 17 and 24 made up nearly a quarter of fatalities over the past five years.”

Professor Lampard, who will combine the part time roles of chairman and adjunct professor at ECU, last month criticised Premier Colin Barnett’s proposed reforms of the Corruption and Crime Commission before a parliamentary committee.

Today, he said he would use his role as independent chairman to give the best advice on behalf of the WA public.

Since 2001 the road fatality rate has dropped 32 per cent across Australia but just 3 per cent in WA, making the State the national road safety laggard.

Professor Lampard agreed with a recent claim by the Motor Trade Association that WA drivers were among the worst at merging and blamed impatience fuelled by a faster-paced life.

“Unfortunately the community of WA has become a little apathetic to the amount of people who are dying on our roads,” he said.

“If we had four or five people murdered over a weekend there would be public outcry.”

Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said Professor Lampard’s blend of operational experience and grasp of research made him perfect for the role.

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